Category Archives: SfEP membership

10 things you didn’t know about the SfEP social media teams

By Julia Sandford-Cooke

With more than 13,500 Facebook ‘Likes’ and 5,000 Twitter followers, the SfEP social media accounts are a popular way of promoting the Society to a wider audience.

But do you know what goes on behind the scenes of our Facebook and Twitter accounts? Have you ever wondered who the digital ninjas anonymously posting links are? Well, social media team members have kindly allowed me to expose their true identities and reveal a few social secrets.
social media

  1. Members of the Twitter team each post on a particular day of the week

The team is Cheryl Brant, Richard Sheehan, Sarah Perkins, Alison Walters and Anna Nolan, who are committed to a particular day every week. They will also respond to any direct Twitter communications on the day they are on duty.

  1. Members of the Facebook team each post for a week, on a rota

This means we are responsible for posting each working day for a week, every five or six weeks. The team is Dan Harding, Jayne MacArthur, Becca Wells and me. There is currently a vacancy for a fifth person.

Margaret Hunter, marketing and PR director, ably and patiently oversees both teams.

  1. We’re all volunteers

We’re not elected to a committee or paid for our time. We are all at different stages of our editorial careers but we feel it is important to actively support the work of the SfEP.

Anna says, “When I first got involved with the team, I had not long before joined the SfEP and had not started work as a proofreader or copy-editor, whatsoever. I was an absolute newbie, coming from a non-publishing background and in need of training. I did know how to use social media and loved the idea of helping out the SfEP and keeping updated with the latest ideas and developments in the editing/publishing world.”

Dan and Jayne agree. Dan says, “This is the best way for me to keep engaged with SfEP on a regular basis.”

I’ve been in the team for a few years now and think of it as an enjoyable bit of community service that fits in well with my other commitments. My nearest local SfEP group is at an inconvenient place and time but being on the Facebook admin team means I can help my professional society and share ideas with other editors without even leaving my desk!

  1. We usually share posts beforehand

We use a closed Facebook group to post suggested links or ask questions. Like the rest of the team, if a link catches my eye, I’ll post it to the group even if it’s not my week, in case the person on duty can make use of it. We choose our favourite links from here and either post them live or (more likely) schedule them each day.

The function of the SfEP’s social media pages is to provide links to useful or entertaining posts about books, language, editing and proofreading while acknowledging the achievements of our members and, of course, promoting the work of the SfEP. External links are interspersed with links to the SfEP website and blog, so that those who have discovered us only via our social media streams can find out more about the SfEP and perhaps even become members.

We try to post a range of different subjects, styles and sources but you may notice links from certain sites coming up regularly – that’s because they are so good (for example, we might as well link to every post written by Rich Adin and his network of contributors on the An American Editor blog!).

That said, linking to an external post does not necessarily endorse it. Although we try to promote only good-quality posts that uphold the SfEP’s values, some readers may disagree. Quality is subjective and we can’t take responsibility for others’ mistakes. In any case, sometimes we link to posts that we simply enjoy and think our readers will also appreciate, and hope that they will forgive the occasional typo in content we cannot amend.

While we do our best to help anyone who contacts us, we are not a job board. We direct people asking for quotes for work or proofreader recommendations to the SfEP website and/or directory.

  1. We are truly international

Perhaps surprisingly, about a third (4,600) of our Facebook fans are from the USA, with about 3,000 from the UK. Next come India, Canada, Australia and South Africa, with Brazil and the Philippines close behind in terms of numbers. Spanish and Portuguese speakers are our biggest non-English language audience. Although we are a British-based society, we try to bear this cultural variety in mind, for example by posting links that may be of particular interest to Canadians and Americans later in the day.

  1. We agonise over errors – and alleged errors

When we write a post, we check and check again… and check again. We’re painfully aware of how it appears to readers if the SfEP’s posts have typos. But sometimes, as with any project, errors slip through when we are juggling paid work and other commitments with our admin roles. Believe us when we say we cringe and put it right as soon as we realise.

Anna says (and I agree): “I am mortified when I realise too late I’ve made an error – and feel even worse when someone points it out.” We beg a little patience from those who are quick to point out mistakes. We’re only human and we’d prefer comments to focus on the content of the links, not the introductory copy.

And sometimes, as we know, errors are in the eye of the beholder.

What’s more, on Twitter in particular, we have only a few characters to get over a sense of a link – sometimes this necessitates a simpler introduction than we’d like. If the post isn’t to your taste, move on – we’ll be posting another very soon.

  1. We don’t have a stylesheet – gasp!

Yes, we’re editorial rebels. While we use standard British punctuation and spelling, it was decided early on that to impose a style sheet on all the posts would be too arduous for posts that are essentially intended to be fleeting and for editors and proofreaders in the team who already have enough stylesheets to follow.

I have to admit, however, that I sometimes rephrase introductions to avoid en rules (which are difficult to use on a web interface) or complex punctuation.

And, for the record, I hyphenate ‘copy-editing’ after the style of Judith Butcher’s handbook but other team members may use ‘copyediting’ or ‘copy editing’ – all are correct.

  1. We take the Friday funny very seriously

Regular followers of our Facebook page may enjoy our Friday afternoon tradition of posting an editorial cartoon or meme. I really struggle to find appropriate funnies that haven’t been all over the web already but luckily my colleagues are always on hand to provide suggestions. Recent popular posts (not posted by me) include Snoopy’s attempts to write a novel and tips for procrastination.

laughingOver on Twitter, if you’ve engaged with the SfEP over the week, perhaps by retweeting or responding to a post, or if you’re a member of the SfEP, you may find yourself featured in a #FF (Friday Follow).

  1. We learn a lot

We don’t volunteer purely out of the goodness of our hearts – an element of continuing professional development is key.

Richard says, “It feels good doing something to contribute and it also keeps me up to date with what’s being posted online around the internet.”

Sarah says, “I reckon being on the team makes me keep reading blogs and finding out new things. If I didn’t have to find something each week, I wouldn’t get round to keeping up to date.”

Dan adds, “Being involved in sourcing and posting content is a great motivator and helps me to keep up to date with articles that I wouldn’t otherwise read.”

And, obviously, it’s a great excuse to browse the web.

As Cheryl says, “It’s a good way to take a break from a project without feeling guilty about web browsing when you should be working.”

  1. We’re always looking for more volunteers

The formula of posting links to external content and to the SfEP website and blog works well. A few people have even told us that our social media feeds are among the best they’ve seen from an organisation like ours. We’re delighted to receive such positive feedback and are proud of what we achieve as a team.

Anna says, “I love being part of a friendly, helpful and communicative team. I think we all work well together and there is a really strong sense of cohesion among us!”

Sounds like fun? Contact Margaret Hunter on marketingpr@sfep.org.uk if you are a member of the SfEP and would like to volunteer for the social media team or find out more.

Julia Sandford-CookeJulia Sandford-Cooke of WordFire Communications (www.wordfire.co.uk) is an Advanced Professional Member of the SfEP. When she’s not hanging out with other editors (on Facebook and in real life), she authors and edits textbooks, writes digital copy, proofreads anything that’s put in front of her and posts short book reviews on her blog, Ju’s Reviews.

 

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

The value of belonging to a professional body

By Margaret Hunter

quality control assuredThe Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has just published a report on how the public view professional bodies. In a survey of over 2,000 people, these are the 3 statements (out of 11) that were most commonly agreed with:

  • Professional qualifications help people to earn more.
  • Professional qualifications raise standards.
  • I would trust a professional more if I knew that they were a member of a professional body.[1]

Does this apply as well to editors and proofreaders as to builders, lawyers or doctors, I wonder? I think it does, especially when we are now competing in a global marketplace. Having an association with a professional body such as the SfEP shows that we care about our credibility, our skills and how we do our jobs. It says to potential clients that we care so much about doing a good job for you that we’ve taken steps to learn how to do it properly, and to abide by the standards and good working practices set by our peers.

In return, our professional credibility raises trust among people who may want to use our services. Awareness of the existence of our training efforts and professional membership creates positive perceptions of the jobs we do. Potential clients can begin to see what we do as a real thing and can start to envisage how it could benefit them.

However, to gain these credibility benefits from our professional membership, the professional body itself needs to have credibility. It’s one of my tasks, as the marketing and PR director for the SfEP, to help make that happen – to raise our profile and get us known for being the go-to place for quality editorial services and training. But all of us have a hand in raising that profile too. When we’re asked what we do, do we take the opportunity to mention the SfEP?

To quote the CIOB report, ‘for professional bodies, familiarity leads to favourability’,[2] so the more people hear about the SfEP, the more they are likely to see it as a professional body that knows its stuff and consequently are more likely to hire an SfEP member rather than an editor who doesn’t have that association.

So, my fellow editors, to mangle JFK’s well-known call to action:

Ask not what the SfEP can do for you, [but also] ask what you can do for the SfEP.

 

Margaret HunterMargaret Hunter is marketing and PR director of the SfEP.

[1] Understanding the value of professionals and professional bodies, The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) 2015, p. 28

[2] Ibid. p. 29.

 

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

Supporting sentences and each other

The other day, I was discussing the concept of bullet points with my six-year-old daughter.

‘Part of my job involves checking the punctuation of bullet lists,’ I told her.

She looked at me pityingly. ‘Sad job,’ she said.

She had a point of course. But, on the other hand, a commitment to consistency and clarity can in fact make for a very happy job, especially when you find others who feel the same way. And they’re certainly out there, especially online. Follow any thread on The Editors’ Association of Earth Facebook group, for example, and you’ll find eloquent international specialists eager to share their knowledge, united by their passion for the English language.

Lunching with like-mBlog post pubinded locals

Here’s another scenario. A group of professionals listens as a potential client describes her requirements for contractors. She explains the type of work she offers, the skills she’s looking for and the rates of pay on offer. Does her audience size each other up, ready to betray their competitors’ weaknesses, Apprentice-style, with a clever put-down or underhanded action?

Of course not. This is a group of editors and proofreaders, and, perhaps because we’re used to working alone, we find our strength in numbers.

The professionals in question were the Norfolk SfEP group on a tour of a local typesetter. In the pub afterwards (what better excuse for a rare business lunch?), veterans of the battle for clear prose offered advice to nervous newbies, and we all openly discussed what we thought of the rates on offer. They were on the low side – acceptable to those looking for a route into editorial work but less attractive to those with a larger network of contacts. There was no sense of rivalry; some of us were simply keener to work for the typesetter than others. Talk moved on to more typical pub chat – weddings, construction and the City of London Corporation.

I don’t get to local meetings as often as I’d like but, when I do, I’m always welcomed warmly and come home brimming with inspiration and motivation. The Norfolk group (or chapter, as I like to call it) is one of 39 local SfEP groups throughout the United Kingdom that give editors and proofreaders a welcome opportunity to discuss sentence structure, spelling and standing desks with others who care about such things. SfEP members further afield can join the international group or and even the Skype Club – there’s no reason to feel isolated even if you normally work by yourself.

The perils of going it alone

Here’s a third example, which I hope isn’t typical. I was telling a designer at a networking event about my strong editorial community – the friendly conferences, the funny Twitter chats, the engaging Facebook posts. He stared at me in amazement. ‘I don’t speak to other designers,’ he said. ‘They’d only steal my clients.’

‘So you always work in isolation?’

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘It’s the price you have to pay for being a freelance designer.’

Sad job, I thought.

TSO group and

Julia Sandford-Cooke of WordFire Communications (www.wordfire.co.uk) has more than 15 years’ experience of publishing and marketing. When she’s not hanging out with other editors (virtually or otherwise), she authors and edits textbooks, writes digital copy, proofreads anything that’s put in front of her, spends too much time on Twitter (@JuliaWordFire) and posts short book reviews on her blog, Ju’s Reviews.

Proofread by SfEP Entry-Level Member Susan Walton.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

Judith Butcher Award shortlist 2015

The SfEP has issued a shortlist of members to be considered by this year’s sub-committee in charge of the Judith Butcher Award. It is presented to someone who makes or has made a ‘clearly identifiable and valuable difference’ to the SfEP.

Each year, all Society members are asked to nominate candidates for the Award, saying why they think the nominee should be considered, and the sub-committee draws up a shortlist. This is then studied carefully, and the winner decided upon.

The presentation itself takes place at the conference gala dinner on 6 September.

Three candidates are on the shortlist: Paul Beverley, Rod Cuff and Louise Harnby.

PBPaul Beverley

Paul is described as giving ‘unstintingly of his time and expertise, sharing freely what could be considered commercially valuable expertise (which he could easily have sold in ebook format instead)’, and as ‘helpful to me and countless others simply by responding to queries about, or requests to write, macros’. Another nominator writes that Paul ‘contributes a great deal to the continuing professional development of the SfEP membership’.

RCRod Cuff

In many years on the general committee (precursor of the current council), developing and looking after matters electronic, Rod ‘has been a driving force within the SfEP … developing and maintaining the website and the online Directory, and running SfEPLine’, managing the Directory until 2012 and somehow able to fit in being the official proofreader for Editing Matters for the last 12 years. In addition, he ‘has used his long experience of SfEP’s past by working voluntarily in the Membership Working Group and the Futures Group … to lead the many hours of research, thinking and work that led to the new membership arrangements now in place’. Another role is as a key member of the Linnets – the choir that performs at the annual conference – and he also ‘flew the flag for editors on Only Connect’.

LHLouise Harnby

Louise is described by one nominator as ‘a constant source of inspiration … [she] has helped no end of newer members of the Society’. The set of PDF proofreading stamps that she provides free to members of the Society, the books she has published on setting up as an editor and on marketing editorial services, and her inspirational blog are the most visible of many efforts on behalf of members, including what have been described as ‘always thoughtful, thorough and polite … posts on SfEP forums’.

A longer version of this article originally appeared in the July/August edition of Editing Matters, the membership magazine of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.

What’s new in PerfectIt 3?

PerfectIt 3, a new, updated version of the popular software that many of us find invaluable, has just been launched by Intelligent Editing. Wendy Toole looks at what the new version has to offer.

PerfectItscreen

The first difference to notice with PerfectIt 3 is that it has its own ribbon tab (or its own toolbar in Word 2003), not only making its new features instantly available but also opening up and drawing attention to existing features that may have skipped a user’s notice in earlier versions. There is simple access to ‘Reports’ and ‘Help’ groups, and also the new ‘Style Sheets’ group that now includes many options in addition to basic UK or US English spelling, such as Australian or Canadian, and a choice of house styles such as those of the European Union and the WHO.

Of the many new tests included in PerfectIt 3, the ones that appeal to me as an editor mostly of academic humanities texts are those for accents/foreign characters, italics, and brackets and quotes left open. The test for accents/foreign characters will draw your attention to inconsistencies such as ‘café’ and ‘cafe’. The italics test includes a selection of phrases such as a priori and inter alia, to which you can also add your own items: you select whether you want the terms always, never or consistently italicised, with the default being for consistency. (My authors often italicise ‘HMS’ in names of ships, so I’ll be adding that to the ‘never’ list …) What the test for brackets and quotes being left open can do to help you doesn’t need explaining.

Useful for STM

Among the new tests that will be of particular use to editors working on STM-type texts are those for superscripts and subscripts, percentage symbols and non-breaking spaces with measurements. They are also likely to appreciate having the useful ‘Table of Abbreviations’ accessible on the ribbon. PerfectIt 3 is even more customisable than its predecessor, and the ‘Style Sheets’ group in the ribbon makes the many available options easy to negotiate. Among those that will be welcomed by almost everyone are options to set capitalisation styles in different heading levels, and tests for the hyphenation of prefixes (as with the italics test, you can opt for always, never and consistency). Also – to my surprise and delight – there is now the facility to carry out wildcard find and replace routines: if you have a special F&R that does just the thing you want, such as replacing hyphens in number ranges with en dashes, which I seem to use in every job I do, simply paste it in on the ‘Wildcards’ tab of the ‘Style Sheet Editor’.

Skip sections

Another new feature that will be a great time-saver for many of us is the option to tell PerfectIt 3 to skip particular sections of text when running checks. Anyone who edits material with a lot of quotes from other sources will appreciate this, not to mention those – probably most of us at one time or another – whose work contains bibliographies. As well as opting to exclude from checking all text between straight/curly single/double quotes in ‘Choose Sections to Check’, you can type in the name of the Word style you have applied to your block quotes, and these will be skipped too. Footnotes, endnotes, references and bibliographies can all be excluded from the tests in their entirety, and you can also exclude all italic text elsewhere in your document.

Bespoke style sheets

As in PerfectIt 2, it is simple to make bespoke style sheets (either from scratch or based on an existing style sheet to which you wish to make customisation tweaks) to suit each of your clients. The new ‘Edit Current Style’ feature not only contains more options than were available in PerfectIt 2 but, with its plus-size dialogue box, is extraordinarily user friendly.

As a longtime user of PerfectIt, I was delighted to be asked to test and review PerfectIt 3. Unlike many software updates we’ve all struggled with, the new version is a clear and substantial improvement. Here, I have only scratched the surface of what it can do to help you perfect your documents. PerfectIt 3 is free to try, so do take a look whether you are a PerfectIt2 user or new to the product. I think you will like it. I certainly do.

Find out more at www.intelligentediting.com.

Wendy Toole profile pic

Wendy Toole is an advanced professional member and past chair (2011–2013) of the SfEP. She edits mainly academic humanities subjects, and historical and literary fiction. Her private passions include Victorian London, Victorian literature, and old maps and photographs. Follow Wendy on Twitter or find her on LinkedIn.

 

This review originally appeared in the May/June edition of Editing Matters, the membership magazine of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.

Members of the SfEP get a 15% discount on PerfectIt. If you’re already a member, log in to the Members’ area of the website for details.

26 reasons to go to the 26th SfEP conference

If you still need convincing to go to this year’s SfEP/SI conference (with the theme ‘Collaborate and Innovate’), here are 26 reasons to book your place right now.

  1. Quite simply, it’s the SfEP’s biggest professional and social event of the year.
  2. It’s the first-ever joint conference to be held with the Society of Indexers, which means new faces and more networking opportunities.
  3. It’s taking place in the tranquil surroundings of Derwent College at the University of York.

    Derwent college

    Derwent College, University of York

  4. If you’d like to see more of this beautiful and historic city, you can take a pre-conference literary tour of York. (Requires separate booking.)
  5. Attending the conference is an unrivalled CPD opportunity. There are over 30 sessions to choose from, covering a diverse range of subjects and interests, from editing academic journals to understanding the self-publishing process, and from the ethics of proofreading dissertations and theses to financial planning and honing your presentation skills.
  6. You can attend one of the pre-conference workshops on Cindex, Macrex, PerfectIt or Edifix. (Requires separate booking.)
  7. The AGM, at the start of the conference, is a valuable chance to find out more about how the Society is run, and have your say.
  8. There is a range of international speakers booked, from the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia as well as all over the UK.
  9. You’ll meet up with old friends, or people you’ve only met previously online – or make completely new acquaintances.
  10. For freelancers, it’s a great time to network with colleagues and potential clients; for corporate subscribers, it’s a chance to find freelance talent.
  11. There’s the chance to get dressed up (if you like) at the Gala Dinner. When else do freelancers get to wear posh frocks and suits?
  12. For that matter, for some of us it might be a chance simply to get dressed, if our popular image is to be believed …
  13. David Crystal (honorary vice-president of the SfEP) is giving the after-dinner speech, which is sure to be a treat.
  14. You don’t have to do the cooking or washing up for a few days!
  15. Experience the joy of finding yourself in the company of so many other people who understand the importance (and use) of the semicolon. This is truly a rare thing.
  16. Expect a fascinating Whitcombe Lecture from John Thompson (a founder of Polity Press, Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and author), who will consider how the publishing industry is adapting to change.
  17. Earn points towards upgrading your membership of the SfEP.
  18. If you’re a first-timer, take the chance to grill meet the current SfEP council over drinks on the first night.
  19. Breakout events such as the Tweetup and the exhibitors’ fair provide a range of things to do between sessions.
  20. On the last afternoon, attend the ‘Crystal ball’ panel session, and put your questions to six publishing experts: Alison Baverstock, Allyson Latta, Sam Leith, Peter McKay, Kate Mertes and Lynn West.
  21. The closing lecture, by Eben Muse (Researcher in Digital Media at Bangor University), promises an intriguing look at how readers are adapting to change, and the future of reading itself.
  22. Make the most of your time away and attend the SfEP’s pre-conference course, Introduction to fiction editing. (Requires separate booking.)
  23. As well as your fellow editors, you can meet the lovely staff from our offices in Putney, who keep the SfEP running smoothly all year round.
  24. Try your luck in the raffle, with a range of fantastic prizes on offer, including a handmade book by session leader Paul Johnson.
  25. Be amazed at how revived and enthused you feel after a few days away from your desk. There’s nothing like it for rekindling your love of editing!
  26. Finally, there’s still time to make the most of the early-bird discount if you book now – until Friday 24 April.

We hope to see you there!

Liz Jones SfEP marketing and PR director

 

Liz Jones is the SfEP’s PR and marketing director.

 

 

Round-up of the ten most popular SfEP social media posts in March

SfEP logoSocial media moves very quickly, and the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds are no different. So, to ensure you don’t miss out, here’s a summary of our ten most popular posts in March:

  1. 7 grammar myths you learned in school. OxfordWords blog. (Posted on Twitter and Facebook 23 March.) The Oxford Dictionaries OxfordWords blog suggests that some of the grammar rules we learn in school should be described more as helpful guides, while others are simply ‘inventions’.
  1. 10 British words that baffle Americans. BBC America. (Posted on Facebook and Twitter 19 March.) The reference to ‘craic’ as British raised some eyebrows among our Facebook fans.
  1. Friday Funny: Acyrologia. (Posted on Facebook 20 March.) Several of our Facebook fans had their own suggestions for words that sound similar but have a completely different meaning.
  1. The 50 books every child should read. i100 Independent. (Posted on Facebook and Twitter 5 March.) To mark World Book Day, we shared a list compiled by Sainsbury’s of books every child should read before they turn 16. Our Facebook fans added their own suggestions and argued that children should be allowed to discover their own favourites and that any book that gets children reading is good.
  1. 32 of the most beautiful words in the English language. Buzzfeed. (Posted on Facebook 11 March and Twitter 12 March.) Our Facebook fans were keen to add their own favourites, although it was noted that a reference to the source of the words would have been a bonus.
  1. Feeling the freelance squeeze. Northern Editorial blog. (Posted on Twitter 16 March.) A blog post by SfEP professional member Sara Donaldson explores the often difficult subject for freelances of talking prices and money.
  1. Are these the best book-to-film adaptations? The Guardian. (Posted on Twitter 9 March.) A survey by BT TV, coinciding with World Book Day in the UK, the nation’s top ten book-to-film adaptations. One of our Twitter followers said she’d enjoyed Sense and Sensibility as a book much better after seeing the Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet film version.
  1. Sweden adds gender-neutral pronoun to dictionary. The Guardian. (Posted on Twitter 26 March.) The official dictionary of the Swedish language is adding a gender-neutral pronoun, hen, to enable reference to a person without revealing their gender. One of our Twitter followers suggested this would be a solution to the dreaded singular ‘they’.
  1. Semicolons: how to use them, and why you should. Huffington Post Books. (Posted on Twitter 23 March.) The author of this article suggests a big part of the semicolon’s problem is its mysterious nature and seeks to clarify its usage.
  1. There is no ‘proper English’. Wall Street Journal. (Posted on Twitter 17 March.) The author of this article argues that grammatical rules are merely stylistic conventions and that it is time to consign grammar pedantry to the history books.

Joanna BoweryJoanna Bowery is the SfEP social media manager. As well as looking after the SfEP’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and the SfEP blog, she offers freelance marketing, PR, writing and proofreading services as Cosmic Frog. Jo is an entry-level member of the SfEP and a Chartered Marketer. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Proofread by SfEP entry-level member Karen Pickavance.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

The thinking behind the new upgrade system

SfEP logoThere’s been much talk within the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) recently about encouraging people to move up the membership levels, to show that the SfEP endorses their experience and professional development. The changes to the upgrade system, launched this week, are designed to make this possible for more people, with a wider range of backgrounds and editorial experience.

When making the changes we wanted to retain and build on the things that were already good about the existing upgrade system. We already had a carefully considered and anonymous assessment of individual applications by the Admissions Panel. We had fairly demanding yet somewhat flexible criteria, showing that people who had upgraded successfully had achieved something of real worth. We also had a system that made a genuine attempt to deal with a wide range of experience … but with room for improvement.

Under the old system, the biggest problems came when an applicant presented training, experience or references that were untypical or unproven (an undocumented training course, or a referee without obvious editorial expertise, for example). If these applications could not be made to fit the rules, the application would often have to be rejected. We also found that experienced editors were unwilling to join as associates, and this meant that the SfEP was failing to acknowledge and endorse real expertise as well as potentially missing out on many highly experienced and well-qualified members.

Before making any changes, we consulted the membership. Their feedback told us that the paper application process needed updating, and the supporting information needed simplification. They also found that some aspects of the system were too prescriptive and inflexible. Particular groups of people felt excluded by the upgrade criteria. And finally, there was much demand for a test to allow people to demonstrate their editorial skills.

To address these issues, the new system has the following important features.

  • We’ve taken the system online. There’s now an online form to replace the paper application, which also allows for plenty of flexibility.
  • We’ve aimed for more clarity. The explanatory materials have been rewritten and redesigned.
  • A wider range of experience can be counted. This has been achieved chiefly as a result of the editorial test, which provides points towards upgrading, and can be used to support experience and references. We plan to introduce an advanced editorial test in 2015 to complement the basic test now offered.

We hope these changes will smooth the path to upgrading for many more applicants from a range of backgrounds – both recent entrants to the profession and highly experienced editors – and will ensure that our accreditation process remains fit for purpose for years to come. To find out more about upgrading, and the editorial syllabus and test, visit the SfEP website.

Liz Jones is the SfEP’s marketing and PR director, and worked on the changes to the society’s upgrade system in her previous council post (professional development).

 

Ten ideas to help you find work as a proofreader

Image credit: An Eastbourne Website Designer

Whether you’re just starting out and wondering how to secure that first paying job, or you’re more established and looking to fill a hole in your diary or further develop your business, here are ten ideas to help you find proofreading work.

1. Mine your existing contacts. Let them know what you’re doing and what sort of work you’re looking for. Ask them to share your details with anyone who might be interested in your services.

2. Write a speculative letter or email. Get in touch with potential clients and let them know what you can offer them. It goes without saying that you should check that your correspondence is going to the correct person in the organisation.

3. Go to a local SfEP group meeting. The SfEP has 38 local groups and you can find your nearest meeting on the SfEP website. Talk with your local colleagues about what projects you’re working on and what sort of projects might be of interest in the future. Although this may not yield immediate gains, a colleague may remember that you have a particular expertise and refer potential clients on to you if they are unable to take on a project.

4. Network at other local business groups. Go to local business events and find out who might be looking for a proofreader. Prepare a simple sentence that describes what you do and why you could be useful. Don’t forget to take your business cards.

5. Add your details to the SfEP Associates Available list. Associates of the SfEP can add a listing to the list of Associates Available for work, which is updated every fortnight. Any member of the SfEP can access the list and contact associates if they have surplus work and want to subcontract it out.

6. Add an entry to the SfEP Directory of Editorial Services. If you’re an ordinary or advanced member of the SfEP you can add your details to the SfEP Directory of Editorial Services. This is a searchable database available to anyone looking for a professional editor, proofreader or editorial project manager.

7. Keep an eye out for jobs on the SfEPAnnounce mailer. Vacancies are often posted on the SfEPAnnounce email. The vacancies can also be found on the SfEPAnnounce forum page.

8. Check out the SfEP Marketplace online forum. SfEP members can also post and respond to job offers and other requests for help on specific projects via the SfEP Marketplace forum.

9. Sign up to directories. Some proofreaders have found work after signing up to websites such as findaproofreader.com.

10. Check out freelance job boards. There is a wealth of freelance job boards, such as peopleperhour.com, where you can either list your services or search for anyone looking for a proofreader. Some people find it useful to plug a gap in their schedule or to build up experience or a client base. But it’s probably not the best bet for a sustainable work flow and rates can vary hugely.

For more information about finding work as a freelance proofreader, visit our website and look at our FAQs.

We also sell some useful guides in our online shop, including:

Starting Out: Setting up a small business, by Valerie Rice

Marketing Yourself: Strategies to promote your editorial business, by Sara Hulse

If you have any suggestions for other ways to find work, feel free to add a comment below.

Joanna Bowery

Joanna Bowery

Joanna Bowery is the SfEP social media manager. As well as looking after the SfEP’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and the SfEP blog, she offers freelance marketing, PR, writing and proofreading services operating as Cosmic Frog. Jo is an associate of the SfEP and a Chartered Marketer. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

 

This article was proofread by SfEP associate Anna Black.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.

 

How I got started

One of the most commonly asked questions among those considering a career in proofreading or editing is: ‘How did you get started?’ Here, Richard Hutchinson starts a regular feature on the blog where members of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) share stories of how they did just that.

Computer + Code

What possible connection could there be between writing software for a computer and editing learned texts on the writings of Late Antiquity? I’m going to suggest that there’s quite a bit of overlap there. But I’ll start with some background.

Before I started proofreading

Back at the dawn of civilisation (we’re talking the 1980s here) I managed to get a degree in mathematics. Having discovered early on that I wasn’t really a mathematician after all, I decided to go into a career in modelling. That probably gives you the wrong impression about the way I look – I mean computer modelling, initially in the defence field. From there I moved into more general software engineering, and then spent the next 25 years or so trying to keep up with the rapid developments in computers and technology.

The job came to involve more and more document development and review, and less of the more interesting stuff. So I decided I needed a change. I hit upon proofreading (I’ll come to why in a moment) and my research led me to the SfEP Introduction to proofreading course. This convinced me that I was on the right track, and I went on to complete the Publishing Training Centre’s (PTC) Basic proofreading by distance learning course. I was lucky that I was able to do this while working part-time at the old job, and this continued to be the case as I took my first faltering steps into freelancing.

I decided to focus on publishers rather than businesses or individuals, mainly because networking, marketing and so on aren’t among my strengths. I also decided to play to my technical background and target subjects like maths, physics and computing. So the first book I worked on was about … English Renaissance literature. This break had come through a friend who worked at a local publisher. More work came after I answered a plea for journal copy-editors that was broadcast on the SfEPAnnounce mailing list, and I slowly built up enough experience to be able to upgrade to ordinary membership and take out an SfEP Directory entry. This has turned out to be the single most useful piece of marketing I’ve done – almost all my work comes via my Directory entry.

Eventually, just over a year ago, I summoned up the courage to take the leap into full-time freelancing. I haven’t looked back since.

A change? Or more of the same?

So why do I think that writing software and editing/proofreading are not so far apart? Most computer languages have a strict syntax you need to follow if you’re going to persuade the computer to obey your instructions. That means paying attention to what’s been written at a character-by-character level. You also have to understand the language at a semantic level – while the characters you write may make some sense to the computer, it may not take them to mean what you intended. And when you’re reviewing other people’s code, you also need to pay attention to the overall structure, and its suitability for a place in the system in which it’s to be deployed. An overriding requirement for a software engineer is, or should be, attention to detail. Replace ‘code’ with ‘text’, and I think you get the picture.

And if you were to suggest that the similarities might also include staring at pages of incomprehensible jargon, wondering what on earth they might mean, who am I to argue?

Go further

To find out more about how Richard and two other members of the SfEP (John Firth and Gale Winskill) embarked on freelance careers in editing and proofreading, book the ‘How we got started’ session at our annual conference. The seminar covers what they did, why they did it and things they wish they’d known beforehand.

If you’d like to share the story of how you got started, do get in touch.

Richard Hutchinson

Richard Hutchinson

Richard Hutchinson still can’t quite believe that people will pay him money to read books, and are (mostly) happy to have their mistakes pointed out. An advanced member of the SfEP, he works as a freelance copy-editor and proofreader on books and journals in maths, science and a variety of other subjects – see www.richardhutchinson.me.uk for details.

 

This article was proofread by SfEP associate Emma Wilkin.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.